2013 Newsmakers | What they said

MaltaToday interviewed the major newsmakers of the year and here's what they said...

In 2013, Mgr Charles Scicluna emerged as one of the more vocal of Catholic bishops in the last decade.
In 2013, Mgr Charles Scicluna emerged as one of the more vocal of Catholic bishops in the last decade.

Manuel Micallef - From union to Labour (Tuesday, 8 January)

Our priority to lift those at the bottom upwards remains there, but not by bringing others down.

Kristy Debono - Voters want change of faces (Sunday, 13 January)

Labour's proposals on energy are unimpressive.

Tonio Fenech - The bigger picture (Monday, 14 January)

The PL approach will lead to a very high cost. This will lead to a disaster.

To say that you are going to reduce costs, when the project is not ready, is crazy.

When people start thinking of the PL proposals, they will say that they will prefer a job to a cheque of €150 which they probably will not even receive. They will see the bigger picture...

Konrad Mizzi - A man with a plan (Monday, 14 January)

There will be no need to resign from parliament because we will make it happen (referring to Labour's energy strategy).

Konrad Buhagiar - The buildings that make us proud (Tuesday, 15 January)

When there's a boom, people build. The rest of the time there's a lull and architecture is left to languish, and the fact is that most of us live in times when there is more of a lull than a boom.

Antoine Borg - Failure is not an option (Monday, 21 January)

What Muscat, as ship captain, is actually telling us here is: 'I'm not sure exactly where I'm going, or how, exactly, I am going to get there. But don't worry: if I don't manage, I'll just jump overboard'. Excuse me, but how does that help the passengers? What good would it do them for the captain to abandon ship? They'd just be stuck on a ship that has lost direction and is heading for disaster...

Edward Zammit Lewis - A new face for 'a change from within' (Monday, 21 January)

The wheels of change are in motion.

GonziPN has devalued Parliament.

We need to invest in people, not in buildings.

Karmenu Vella - We've got the power (Sunday, 27 January)

They (PN) are so deceitful as to make 'finanzi fis-sod' their main electoral platform...

For every one euro that the country produces, the state incurs one euro worth of debt.

Carmel Cacopardo - The Greens branch out (Sunday, 3 February)

The problem with MEPA is not whether it is a unitary authority or separated. The problem is the people who run it.

The country should not be run by remote control from the government. Neither can it be run by tele-voting, as Joe Muscat proposes.

Deborah Schembri - Practical Politics (Sunday, 3 February)

Every era seems to have its own way of doing politics, and I didn't like it then (The PL in the 80s). But I am a firm believer that people change, learn and progress and I think that the 80s have taught many people a lesson.

Ian Castaldi Paris - Only a clean sweep can save MEPA (Wednesday, 20 February)

As far as I'm concerned, you can restructure MEPA all you want but unless there is a clean sweep of the people involved, it will not achieve anything in practice.

Evarist Bartolo - Nurturing business while maintaining a social conscience (Sunday, 20 February)

I simply do not believe his (Gonzi's) version of events. (On claims of corruption)

Decisions involving politicians should not be taken by politicians.

Young people can identify with Joseph, as evidenced by this week's university debate. His nuanced language has helped to break down barriers... people could feel that they weren't just talking to a politician, but a human being who was actually listening to them.

Joseph Muscat - Campaigning in poetry, governing in poetry (Monday, 4 March)

 I will be campaigning in poetry and governing in poetry.

If today I am pledging meritocracy, then meritocracy it will be. Doing otherwise would only mean returning to the old way of doing politics.

He (Toni Abela) was the victim of the worst form of character assassination I've ever witnessed.

(The president's appointment) shouldn't simply be a matter of red or blue; not necessarily a person from politics; and not necessarily a man...

Lawrence Gonzi - It is up to the electorate to judge me (Monday, 4 March)

We made huge strides forward and now much of the ground work is ready for the next legislature.

They (Labour) want to take us back to the ugly days when the justice police and courts were used to obstruct justice itself.

The government has nothing to be ashamed of and we are committed to fighting corruption, wherever it comes from whoever it is. I have stated that whoever plays with fire with me will burn himself and some did get burnt.

Franco Debono - Fenech Adamis made PN their own property (Monday, 18 March)

The party was nothing but a showcase for what was going on backstage, behind the curtains, where the real power within the party is vested. Who are they? Richard Cachia Caruana, Austin Gatt and the Fenech Adami family.

Meritocracy was destroyed - you could only advance if you lick ass.

Eddie Fenech Adami lent the party, which almost became his family's private property, to Lawrence Gonzi and now the rent came to an end and Fenech Adami wants the keys back... to pass it on to his son.

[Simon Busuttil] was Eddie Fenech Adami's darling... however, in a contest involving his own son, he will back his son.

My hurt is bigger now that I know that the (election) result proved me right.

Claudio Grech - The time for absolutism is over (Monday, 18 March)

The fact that for Maltese households the micro issues took precedence over the bigger picture is in itself an indication that the bigger picture was well taken care of.

It is irrelevant to have the creation of jobs and a health and education system which were delivering, while ignoring how people were actually living in their own household.

Ian Castaldi Paris - Call of Duty: build a new PN (Tuesday, 26 March)

During the last legislature, the PN became very arrogant.

The PN headquarters became an unwelcoming place that people began to feel excluded from. Whoever showed enthusiasm, myself included, was given frosty stares which discourage you from contributing.

The party was controlled by what looked like a phantom, and you would not know who was responsible for what.

Francis Zammit Dimech - The PN's new 'soldiers of steel' (Tuesday, 2 April)

The Labour Party spent four whole years changing its image, and ended up presenting itself as a 'PN version 2.0'...

We made the mistake of assuming that if a government gets the economy right, if it sails the ship of state successfully through troubled waters, then people would see the substance, and would choose on the basis of safety and stability.

Back in 2008 I had said that we should have analysed why the party lost some 12,000 votes. That, to me, was a bright red alarm light that had been lit, even if we won the election anyway.

Leo Brincat - Taking stock in the lion's den (Wednesday, 10 April)

If government manages to reconcile the views of Birdlife and the hunters' federation on this particular issue after two weeks in power it will have done a lot.

Simon Busuttil - Last man standing (Monday, 15 April)

I made mistakes, and I have no problem admitting that. But at the same time I don't think it's a fair assessment that I should be blamed for everything that went wrong...

In a sense I have been singled out for blame, because the others are simply no longer there. I was the only one left...

I have been loyal to Gonzi... but I am not Gonzi. I am myself...

Raymond Bugeja - The PN's off-menu option (Monday, 22 April)

When you think that the PN won the election by such a narrow margin in 2008, the writing was on the wall really...

The party needs to adapt. Even the Church, under Pope Francis, is updating its structures. If even the Church acknowledges the need to renew itself from time to time...

Mario de Marco - Riding the perfect storm (Tuesday, 30 April)

My father had a different approach to politics. I don't want to say he was impulsive, but he had a way of taking a decision first and then dealing with consequences as they arose afterwards. I tend to take the opposite approach: I like to weigh all possible outcomes and eventualities first, and then decide...

 Time was an issue that worked against us. Time, and a reluctance to change...

Probably even if we changed all officials and candidates, people would still have wanted change. They felt that the Party had passed its expiry date.

Vince Cassar - MEPA's less expensive car (Monday, 6 May)

MEPA should become more user-friendly. My aim is to ensure that the ordinary person would not feel that MEPA is a bureaucratic obstacle to getting a legitimate permit.

Beppe Fenech Adami - The third way man (Monday, 13 May)

I gave the party my childhood, my youth, my time, my family, I gave it my all. However in trying times you realise that you can give even more to the party.

People will not return to us and say sorry for voting Labour. People will only return if they recognise that we have changed and if we represent their aspirations.

Anglu Farrugia - Parliament's guardian angel (Tuesday, 21 May)

Today I am no longer part of the Labour Party... I no longer take sides.

Claudette Buttigieg - No token lady (Wednesday, 22 May)

When people attack you personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.

Labour changed because of us. And just like Tony Blair thanked Thatcher for changing Labour, Joseph Muscat must thank us.

Michael Farrugia - The PS with a hot potato (Monday, 10 June)

It is more difficult for insiders to change things and think out of the box than outsiders who are more in tune with people's perceptions.

My heart will beat well when I am criticised by both environmentalists and developers. That is the best sign that I am on the right path.

John Dalli - The unambiguous circumstantial evidence (Wednesday, 12 June)

The whole basis of the allegations by Swedish Match... was based on a lie.

Joseph Muscat - And now... for the real Joseph Muscat (Sunday, 26 June)

The Opposition is not there to set our agenda.

We want people we trust to be the best persons for the job, hailing from whichever political party.

I am ready to work with everyone - everyone who is ready to raise the game and deliver.

Giovanni Bonello - Is justice being served (Monday, 24 June)

Why should someone be acquitted because the police got the time of the offence wrong? It's perfectly okay to rape someone, so long as you do it at 4.30 instead of 2.30?

Chris Said - Turning the PN into a 'factory of ideas' (Wednesday, 3 July)

Slogans used in electoral campaigns are bound to come back to haunt party leaders.

Helena Dalli - Much harder to change a culture than a law (Monday, 29 July)

The easiest thing I could do is simply go to parliament and force the necessary legislation through. But that will only change the law. It is much harder to change a culture, a mindset.

Can you imagine the impact it would have to see, for example, a black newscaster reading the news on TVM... in Maltese?

Cyrus Engerer - Of rights and referenda (Monday, 5 August)

I could never agree to a referendum on minority rights... just imagine if someone were to propose holding a referendum on Islam. How would the Imam react?

I am not a hunter myself... but I still believe Maltese hunters should be given the same rights as other European hunters.

Joe Mizzi - Minister at a bus stop (Monday, 12 August)

My argument with Arriva is that it is in their interest to avoid fines and that in this case, we either succeed or we fail together.

One cannot conduct a transport reform on a computer screen. What one needs are concrete facts, like the number of buses required at particular times. One has to collect statistics.

Lawrence Gonzi - Regrets, I've had a few... (Monday, 19 August)

[When you are a Prime Minister] it's not just the country. It's the future that's in your hands.

Malta could not be a neutral observer to a government killing its own people, despite our 40-year friendship. (On Libya)

Losing an election was preferable to seeing jobless numbers going up.

It's in these moments (divorce referendum) that you show whether you really believe in your principles or whether you're made of plasticine.

Yes, I did lose the election. But look at where the country is. And word to the wise... what we have is not guaranteed to last, and this government should not take anything for granted, because the financial storm is still upon us.

I don't think Labour has the moral high ground.

The PN must never abandon the road that puts it on the right side of the argument, even if it is not a popular stand.

Malta Taghna Lkoll is a big con.

Franco Debono - Gonzi must acknowledge that he was wrong, history proved me right (Friday, 23 August)

It is evident that Gonzi was held hostage by these ministers... it was he who chose the Cabinet which suffered the greatest electoral defeat in Maltese history.

Lawrence Gonzi should be grateful that I granted him a lot of time, time which he did not deserve.

Malta had already earned the title of nurse of the Mediterranean. It has nothing to do with Gonzi but with our geographical position and our generosity. (On Gonzi's tackling of the Libya crisis)

What credibility does Gonzi have in taking credit for the country's solid finances when the Nationalist Party's finances are in such a bad state?

I wish him and his family well, and I hope that one day we could meet for a coffee.

Sandro Chetcuti - Poacher or gamekeeper? (Sunday, 25 August)

[My court case] is on a par with the case of a prominent journalist being accused of throwing plates at her husband.

Unless you're Chris Said you have to spend years in court.

I was the victim of character assassination... I was a victim of a frame up.

If a government is not pro-business it will never be able to turn the wheel round.

Therese Comodini Cachia - Facing a constructed crisis (Monday, 2 September)

The way political discourse on migration is being framed is perpetuating an 'us against them' scenario that is also creating a social divide... it is not the big crisis that the prime minister makes it to be.

Karl Schembri - Live through this (Monday, 2 September)

I could give you cabinets of facts about the Palestinian question, about the way Palestine is being shrunk by the occupation. But facts don't move people.

Syrians living in Malta - A normal life and a hidden hand (Thursday, 12 September)

Abdul Dibo, a 40-year-old construction worker:

Despite the fact that 100,000 people have died, the world did not move to protect us.

When Bashar al-Assad's father, Hafez, committed other massacres in 1982 he could cover up his crimes and nobody moved. Now he cannot lie anymore because people have mobile phones which can record these crimes.

Nidal Binni, a 47-year-old Syrian-born businessman:

The time for dictatorships is over. This is the century of democracy.

Tonio Fenech - It's still the economy, stupid (Sunday, 22 September)

If the government plans to deliver on all their promises, it needs to fulfill a promise a day for the next five years.

Given the choice between having subsidised energy bills but no job, or a job but no subsidy on energy bills.... people will always choose the job, not the subsidy.

[Government] is not painting a true picture of Enemalta's financial situation... we also invested in things like the intreconnector... the BWSC power plant... the distribution network... these are all assets belonging to the corporation, and their value has to also be taken into account.

You couldn't access practically any website without a Labour ad popping up on your screen.

Tony Zahra - Too chummy for Labour? (Monday, 30 September)

I am chummy with any government, but I will always say it as it is.

Edward Scicluna - His hands on the cash register (Tuesday, 8 October)

I don't mind picturing them as parasites: people who want to ride without paying. But when in government, I don't like that kind of morality. I ask myself: is a person getting away with it? Who is making it easy for him? I'd blame myself.

Reuben Balzan - Law and disorder (Wednesday, 16 October)

It is undeniable that the law courts lack the resources to cope with the caseload... look at it this way - Luxembourg, which has a population comparable to Malta's, has 188 judges and magistrates. Malta only has 42...

Marie Louise Coleiro-Preca - Change from the bottom-up (Tuesday, 22 October)

It's like we are creating ghettos, and it defeats our purpose. We should be developing communities, where neighbours look out for each other. This is the sense of community I believe in. (On placing vulnerable people and families all in the same block)

Joseph Cuschieri - What happens in Strasbourg (Tuesday, 29 September)

I think it would be a disservice if we had to put across the idea that MEPs exist only to get people up to Brussels [on holiday]. I think it would be better if it didn't exist anymore.

As things work out in parliament... an MP can just walk into the Chamber, go round the benches and have the Speaker spot him so that he can mark him 'present', walk on behind the Speaker and just walk out of the Chamber. The House should not work that way.

People had to die for an urgent discussion to take place inside the EP (On the immigration issue)

Steve Micklewright - Last chance to stand up to bullies (Monday, 4 November)

They [hunters] have created a very clever fiction that their lobby can swing the outcome of an election. In a sense I can't even blame the politicians... it can't be easy to face the sort of pressure from that kind of lobby.

Mgr Charles Scicluna - Silence is not an option (Monday, 11 November)

Why is government introducing gay marriage under a convenient label?

Charles Scicluna's in town, and that's who I am... I cannot simply shut up.

The defining element of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is in a simple word, sex.

Jason Azzopardi - Faustian choices (Tuesday, 19 November)

We cannot accept turning citizenship in to a commodity... from China to Chile, the news [the sale of Maltese citizenship] has taken the world by storm... we have been turned into a laughing stock among other countries.

The government has given the impression that Malta has big financial problems and that its economy is ailing, which is clearly not the case... perceptions count a lot in economic matters... the end result of this is that real investors could be scared away from Malta.

This [Henley's conflict of interest] is like giving a teacher a pack of papers to correct while giving him or her a commission on every candidate who passes the examination.

Simone Mizzi - Marching against Mistrafication (Monday, 25 November)

This [Mistra] is a typical example of an issue spanning two administrations... ... a permit begun by one administration and concluded by the other... with both washing their hands of it.

Just in the redevelopment of Mistra Holiday complex alone, one full truck of rubble every five minutes will congest an already congested road for two years, an impact conveniently glossed over in the findings.

This is a worrying time for Malta's environment.

John Dalli - The only way forward is to stay united on health (Monday, 25 November)

[Mater Dei] should be managed as a business, not a health department.

I accepted to contribute to something which is 'national'. And the criticism I received was that I had now become a Labour supporter. What sort of logic is that?

Uniting forces is the only way forward for health.

Martin Balzan - Who's the boss? (Monday, 2 December)

Normally when a report is published it means that the government agrees with it. In this case, it seems that after its publication government either had second thoughts or it miscalculated.

Mario Farrugia Borg - A Muslim from Qormi (Sunday, 8 December)

I am like the prodigal son who returned back to his family.... I was brought up in a family which had a big photo of Mintoff in the kitchen... my political philosophy was always leftist and now I am back to where I belong.

God forbid that we have different laws for different religious groups. All people are equal and should be judged according to the same law.

Michael Falzon - Fighting fireworks with fireworks (Monday, 16 December)

Accidents will happen. Human error will always be a factor whatever we do. We can try to minimise danger - which is what this policy aims to do - but we cannot eliminate it altogether.

You [the media] are always the same - biased against everything beautiful that makes us Maltese...

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Almost all of the above boils down to bullshit, and more of it.